Tracking 11,400 Children Deported in Holocaust
100 years after the start of the Great War and as France and other nations focus on remembering the sacrifice, death and devastation of two World Wars, a French historian has published a record of more than 11,400 children, the Nazis transported east, mainly to Auschwitz.
Jean-Luc Pinol created the map using data collected by Serge Klarsfeld the Holocaust documenter and former Nazi hunter. It forms part of an exhibit now displayed outside the Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers, in the 3rd arrondissement of Paris from where, the historian notes, the Nazis deported 577 Jewish children. The map is included in a virtual exhibition available online.
As his web site notes: “Of the 320,000 Jews present in metropolitan France in 1940, some 240,000, of whom 59,000 children (of about 70,000) managed to escape arrest and deportation. Three quarters of the Jews of France were able to evade deportation and death thanks to solidarity shown by many of the local French, who by myriad acts, many unsung, slowed and even counteracted the actions of the Vichy police, the Gestapo, the militia and the collaborators. This solidarity focused on self-help initiatives and rescue organizations by Jewish families themselves. The title “Righteous Among the Nations” is the highest honour bestowed on a civilian by the State of Israel. It is awarded “in the name of the Jewish people” because “whoever saves one life saves the whole of humanity.” The title “Righteous Among the Nations” has been awarded to 24, 811 people in 41 countries, including 3,654 in France. The number of French people involved in rescuing and helping French Jews under threat of deportation remains to be fully tallied – and certainly is much higher than currently documented — which is why a monument was erected in their memory at the Yad Vashem memorial site in Israel.
The presence of a Jewish population in what is today the 3rd arrondissement of Paris dates back to the 18th century, At the end of that century the number of Jews in Paris comprised of no more than 800 families, mainly migrants from Eastern Europe. They lived in the Rue de Beaubourg, Rue du Bourg-l’Abbé and Rue Montmorency. The Jewish population was drawn to these areas on the Right Bank by the establishment of the synagogue in Rue Notre-Dame de Nazareth which opened in 1822.
The 1872 census was the last in which the religion of French citizens was recorded (since then French law has prohibited the asking of any questions about religion in the national census. The III Republic considered religion a private matter, a principle reaffirmed by the statute of 6 January 1978 (Article 8) which bans the collection or processing of personal data that reveals, directly or indirectly, racial or ethnic origin, political opinions and religious or philosophical beliefs).
The 1872 census showed that the Jewish population of Paris was about 1.5% of the total, rising in the 3rd arrondissement, to some 4 to 4.5%. Almost 50% of these were natives of Alsace-Lorraine and over a third foreign. At that time, the Jewish population comprised of labourers, hawkers, artisans and merchants. The womenfolk were seamstresses or embroiderers. The increase in the Jewish population in the 3rd arrondissement continued during the 19th century right up to 1939 with families arriving mainly from Central and Eastern Europe. At the beginning of World War II, the Jewish population represented about 15% of the residents of the 3rd arrondissement. They were involved in traditional activities such the clothing industry, trade and to a lesser extent craft furniture.
In 2014 two significant anniversaries will take place in Europe: 100 years since the outbreak of the Great War (World War I) and the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings in Normandy France that marked the end of World War II and the defeat of a belligerent German nation for the second time in three decades. As a contribution FrenchNewsOnline is publishing a varied number of reports on both wars. Read more here
Discussing the exhibition France 24 reported: “The idea behind the map was to bring the Holocaust out of the realm of the history books and show that “it took place where people lived, where they still live,” Klarsfield told French daily Le Monde. But it can also be used as an important tool for teachers and researchers, illustrating, for example, the large number of deportations of children from Paris – 6,184 in total – and particularly from the city’s slum areas.
“When highlighted to show the specific locations and names of deported children, the map acts as a “memorial”, Pinol told Le Monde. “Once we take a step back to encompass an entire city, it becomes an analysis of urban history,” he said. The fate of France’s Jews during World War II has long been a sensitive issue in the country, where for decades after the war officials kept quiet over the role played by the Nazi-allied Vichy regime during the Holocaust. Far from being passive bystanders, French police and officials carried out the vast majority of round-ups of Jews for deportation during the Second World War.
“One of the most notorious incidents was the “Vel’ d’Hiv Round-up” of 1942, when some 13,152 Jews, most of them women and children, were arrested and brought to the Vélodrome d’Hiver cycle track in Paris, before being transported to internment camps in France and finally to the gas chambers of Auschwitz. In 1995, Jacques Chirac became the first French president to officially apologise for the complicit role French police and administrators played in the deportation of Jews during the war.”
Story: Ken Pottinger
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